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Hospital employees tour new Florence facility virtually

FLORENCE, Ala. - Even though a new hospital in Florence is more than 18-months away from opening, employees are already touring the facility.

The super-structure is rising from the dirt. In just a few short weeks, iron workers have already erected the center section of the North Alabama Medical Center.

Inside a work trailer just yards away, future employees are already strolling through patient rooms.

“It’s amazing. It’s also amazing to see folks walk around beds that aren’t there, and walk around pieces of furniture,” explained Mike Howard, NAMC COO. “I’ve never used virtual reality before I did this and it’s absolutely amazing.”

Howard said on previous projects of this scale, they would use paper plans or build patient suites for employees to tour. He said that’s an expensive undertaking.

“But now with virtual reality, we can do it all right here with a computer mock-up and run a great deal of frontline staff and folks through to see the rooms instantly,” Howard explained.

Mike Howard, NAMC COO

So employees who will be working in these rooms toured them on Friday. Helping to determining where the best place to put electricity, even furniture.

“The beauty is, when they find something they move over to the second station on the 3D model and they make the change right here.”

Howard said this will save them tons of time and money when they’re ready to start putting up the walls.

Hospital officials hope to have the North Alabama Medical Center ready to open in late 2018. It will replace ECM Hospital.